Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

A CLOUD OF MOODINESS.

301

CHAPTER XXXII.

Omission to do what is necessary,
Seals a commission to a blank of danger.-SHAKSPEARE.

IF Thornton had never before seen the perversity of human nature he had abundant cause now. Much as he had wished to be with his sister, often as he had resolved that for the future she should have no reason to complain of him

—that he would be at least part of her happiness,-it seemed as if when the trial came every current set the wrong way. He had wished to prove to her that he was as good as other people, and he was worse than himself.

Rosalie spent her strength upon him most unweariedly ; though less in doing than in watching, -in trying to amuse him, in hoping that he would be amused. But her efforts met with little success. A cloud of moodiness had settled down upon Mr. Clyde, and he seemed in no mind to come out of it. Indeed his attempts at coming out were rather unfortunate, and were as apt to land him in a fit of impatience as anything. His mind was not fitted to bear up against weakness of body—or was itself out of order ; and either craved old associates or the other extreme of something new. Nothing satisfied him, not even Rosalie's watchful love; though he was more ready than of old to appreciate its working ; but if he shook off his moodiness at all, it was generally with such a fling as sent a reminder of the mood into the face of every one present-after which he relapsed tenfold. And though quite able to ride or to walk, in moderation, he was with difficulty persuaded to do either ; and nature's sweet influence had small chance to try their hand upon him.

Are you sure it would not do you good to go out?' Rosalie said one day as he sat by the fire. 'I am so sure that it would

“What use ?' said Thornton. “I can imagine pigs without the help of eyesight.'

You cannot imagine sunshine,' said his sister, with a playful attempt to make him raise his head and look out.

No—nor feel it if I go. There is nothing to see here.'

• But there you are mistaken. There is a great deal that is worth seeing.'

Probably—to canary birds,' said Thornton. "Othere are a great many birds here,' said Hulda. Sparrows, and robins, and'—

Take yourself off to their neighbourhood then-or keep quiet,' said her brother. “You must not talk if you stay here. Why don't you go and pick up apples with Martha as you did yesterday?'

“Because Martha's talking to Tom Skiddy,' said Hulda, and I don't like to.'

• When they have talked each other into a wedding they will be easy,' said Thornton.

Ask Jerusha to go with you Hulda,' said her sister. • Take my little basket and fill it for me, and by and by I will walk with you.' And as Hulda left the room Rosalie came and knelt down by her brother..

What is the matter with you dear Thornton? You will never get strong in this way, and it troubles me very much.'

Thornton put his arm round her and drew her head down upon his breast.

* You are not more tired of me Alie, than I am of myself.'

[blocks in formation]

'I am not tired of you,' said his sister weeping, - you know that.'

'I should think you might be. Why don't you go and take care of Mr. Raynor, and leave me alone?'

She was silent a moment.
“Why do you ask me such a question ?'

For the pleasure of hearing you answer it.'
• That would not make me happy.'
· Then what would ?'

There was answer even in the slight movement of her head before she spoke.

• What would ?' Thornton repeated.
• To see you what I call happy, I believe,' said his sister.

Thornton drew a long breath-or rather breathed one outmas if that were a thing he might whistle for sooner than get; and for some time there was not a word spoken. Then Thornton began again.

"I used to wonder sometimes, in those long hot nights when I lay sick in my tent, that he did not administer poison instead of medicine. And sometimes I almost wished that he would—then you would be taken care of, and I should be in nobody's way.'

“I am sure he never suggested that last idea,' said Rosalie. • “No, to do him justice,' said Thornton, ‘he never mentioned your name unless I did. And he took as tender care of me as if I were his own brother-or perhaps I should say yours. There was no make believe in it though. Yes Alie, I was forced to give up my dislike, and to agree to all the praises you would have spoken had you dared. He is a man to trust.'

There was pleasure in hearing these words,—but for the cold, unenjoying tone, Rosalie would have felt it strongly. As it was the pleasure was qualified ; and her quiet

“I am glad you think so,' told of both feelings. She waited long for Thornton to speak again, but his lips did not move; and slowly she arose and went to give Hulda the promised walk : her voice and eye following the child's merry pranks, and all her thoughts left at home. She could hardly have told whether the walk was long or short, and most like her brother could not.; for when Rosalie again entered the sitting-room he had not stirred from his former position—had not even changed the hand which supported his head. Rosalie came up and laid her hand on it, but the soft touch called forth no words, and in silence she sat down to await the coming in of tea. The meal passed with equal taciturnity.; Hulda went to bed, and Rosalie sat down as before—her eyes apparently seeking counsel of the little wood fire, which flashed into their bright depths with great vivacity. How grave they were, how thoughtful! catching none of the fire's dance.

'It strikes me,' said Thornton suddenly, that you and I have done thinking enough for one night, Alie. What say

you?'

"I don't know.'
“Why don't you know?'

“I suppose,' she said, with one of her fair looks up at him, “I suppose if we have been thinking unprofitable thoughts, it might be well to give the mind some better refreshment before the body takes its own.'.

“What do you call unprofitable thoughts ?' said Thornton.

Fruitless ones—or such as bearing fruit are yet shaken off too soon, before it be ripe.

You have covered the whole ground for me,' said Thornton. “I had better begin again. I wonder if yours have been worth a silver penny ?

* Not to you—and some of them more than that to me.'
• Suppose you were to indulge me with the hearing

THY WILLING SERVANT.

305

thereof,' said Thornton-'just by way of a lesson in fruitful thinking.'

* Truly,' said his sister, ‘my best thoughts were not my own, but drawn from a little hymn of Wesley's.

Give us the hymn then,' said Thornton. “Are you the only alchymist who can fetch gold from thence ?

"The gold is of an ancient stamp,' said his sister sadly, and little thought of in the alloyed currency of this world; for it bears the impress of the first commandment-not Cæsar's image and superscription.

“ Lord, in the strength of grace,

With a glad heart and free;
Myself, my residue of days,

I consecrate to thee.
“ Thy ransomed servant I

Restore to thee thine own ;
And from this moment live or die,

To serve my God alone.”' Thornton looked at his sister while she repeated these words--felt that she had found the gold, that it was in her hand—and knew that his own was empty. And why? He was ready to say it was so because so it was to be; but those words came back to him again

With a glad heart and free"and to none had Rosalie's face given more strong assent and effect.

• Do you like it, Thornton ?' she said, drawing up closer to him.

Seems like pure metal, my dear,' he answered carelessly. 'I presume my ready money would scarce exchange for it without a pretty heavy discount.'

Rosalie looked at him, as if she thought and truly that just then he was counterfeiting; but his face gave her no

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »